Ailbhe O’Neill SC

Member of the Inner Bar

  • Junior Counsel: 2003
  • Senior Counsel: 2022

LL.B (Dub), LL.M (Cantab), Ph.D (Dub), BL (KI)

Areas of Practice:
  • Administrative Law
  • Commercial/Chancery
  • General Common Law
  • General Practice
  • Judicial Review
  • Banking, Finance & Securities
  • Bankruptcy/Insolvency/Reorganisations
  • Company Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Human Rights
  • Public Inquiries
  • Regulatory Law
  • Tribunals of Inquiry & Commissions of Investigation
Ailbhe O’Neill SC

Direct Professional Access:

Ailbhe O’Neill is an experienced junior counsel practising in the areas of Commercial,  Company, Regulatory and Public Law. 

She has advised on and acted in relation to a broad range of legislation in the banking and corporate sector in Ireland including the Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act 2008, the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009,  the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 and the  Companies (Rescue Process for Small and Micro Companies) Act 2021. She was legal advisor to the Commission of Investigation into the Causes of the Banking Crisis in 2011, chaired by Mr. Piotr Nyberg.

An expert in Constitutional Law, she has acted in range of matters with a particular focus on property rights and procedural fairness and was appointed to the role of legal advisor to two Referendum Commissions during their tenure: The Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution (adoption of the Fiscal Stability Treaty) chaired by Mr. Justice Kevin Feeney; and the Thirty-third Amendment (creation of a Court of Appeal) chaired by Ms. Justice Elizabeth Dunne. 

Ailbhe regularly acts for the Central Bank in regulatory matters including matters arising under Part IIIC of the Central Bank Acts. 

She has appeared in all court levels both led and unled including the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Communities. 

Other areas of work undertaken include Judicial Review, Disciplinary Proceedings and general litigation and advisory work across a range of matters for private clients.

Inquiry Pursuant to Part IIIC of the Central Bank Act 1942 concerning Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) & certain persons concerned in its management – representing the Enforcement Division of the Central Bank of Ireland in this ongoing matter.  

Clarke v Ireland [2020] IEHC 716 – challenge to the constitutionality of s. 32B of the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1988 which amended a pension scheme. The case also concerned the transposition of Directive 2003/41EC of the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision into Irish Law. 

Shareholder litigation arising from the recapitalisation of Irish Life and Permanent Bank plc. which raised issues concerning the interpretation of the Second Companies Directive. The proceedings were initiated in the High Court and resulted in a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Represented the Minister for Finance at all stages of this litigation including the CJEU hearing and appeals and a variety of ancillary matters including costs adjudication:  Dowling v. Minister for Finance [2014] IEHC 418  Case C-41/15, Dowling v Minister for Finance [2017] IEHC 520; [2018] IECA [2020] 2 I.R. 273; [2019] IESCDET 55. 

Wee Care Ltd v Companies Registration Office [2020] IECA 266. This case concerned the jurisdiction of the High Court to remove full financial statements which had been filed in error from the Register of Companies.

Collins v. Minister for Finance [2017] 3 I.R. 99. A challenge to the constitutionality of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008 and the manner in which the Defendant agreed to issue promissory notes in excess of €30 billion to the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) and the Educational Business Society (EBS). 

Independent Trustee Company Ltd v Registrar of Companies [2016] IECA 274. This case raised the issue of the extent to which the Registrar of Companies had discretion  in the manner in which information concerning receivership is organised on the Register of Companies.

C-526/14 Tadej Kotnik -v- Drzavni zbor Republike Slovenije. A reference for preliminary ruling from a Slovenian court to the CJEU concerning the treatment of bondholders during the reorganisation of financial institutions in Slovenia. Ireland intervened to make submissions in respect of the questions referred, including the compatibility between the principle of burden sharing set out in a Banking Communication issued by the Commission with the Second Companies Directive.

Charles Chawke v Judge Alan Mahon and Others [2014] IEHC 398, [2014] 1 IR 788 Judicial Review proceedings concerning a costs order proposed to be made by the Tribunal against the Applicant on the basis of non-cooperation. 

Abadi and Co Securities Ltd and Aurelius Capital Master Ltd. v. Minister for Finance 2011/114MCA. Bondholders’ challenge to the reorganisation of Allied Irish Banks plc and the making of Subordinated Liabilities Orders pursuant to the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010.

Advised on and appeared in a number of court applications concerning the reorganisation of Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide Building Society, Irish Life and Permanent, the Educational Building Society and Allied Irish Bank pursuant to the Credit Institutions Stabilisation Act 2010 2010-2011. The reorganisation measures involved comprised Direction Orders, Transfer Orders and Subordinated Liabilities Orders.

Acted for the Central Bank in the rescue of Newbridge Credit Union by means of the appointment of a Special Manager and the subsequent transfer of the assets and liabilities of the Credit Union.


Re Bovale Developments: Director of Corporate Enforcement v Bailey [2011] IESC 24, [2011] 3 IR 278. Application to strike out evidence from affidavits – Whether Director of Corporate Enforcement impermissibly delegated investigative function – Whether finding of report of tribunal of inquiry admissible – Whether hearsay evidence permissible at initial stage of disqualification proceedings – Right to cross-examine. 

Case C-108, Audiolux SA v Groupe Bruxelles Lambert and others. This was a reference for preliminary ruling from a Luxembourg court to the CJEU. Ireland intervened in respect of the question of whether there was a general principle of EU Law which required equal treatment of shareholders.

Open Justice Revisited – Gilchrist and Rogers v. Sunday Newspapers Ltd., Irish Supreme Court Review, 1, 2019, p1.

Rights and Freedoms in the Domestic Context – Fair Procedures in Difficult Times in, editor(s)Ferarri and O’Dowd , 75 Years of the Constitution of Ireland: An Irish-Italian Dialogue, Italy and Ireland, Clarus Press , 2014, p17.

Fair Procedures – An Inviolable Right?, Dublin University Law Journal, 33, 2011.

Property Rights and the Power of Eminent Domain in, editor(s) Oran Doyle , The Constitution at 70, Dublin, Thomson Round Hall, 2008.

O’Neill, Invalidity and Retrospectivity under the Irish and Canadian Constitutions, Forum Constitutionnel, 2007, p147.

Budgetary Procedures Under the Irish Constitution, Special section: “The medium-term constitutional implications of the Eurozone crisis in countries under financial assistance” (Quaderni costituzionali) , (1), 2019, p1.

Subordinated creditors in times of crisis – the Irish approach, Journal of International Banking Law and Regulation , 30, (5), 2015, p296.

National Reporter, European Insolvency Law – The Heidelberg-Luxembourg-Vienna Report, 2014.

McCann Courtney , Companies Acts 1963-2010, Dublin, Tottel, 2010 Book, 2010.

Taming Directors in, editor(s)Ronan Keane and Ailbhe O’Neill , Corporate Governance and Regulation in Ireland, Dublin, Thomson Round Hall, 2009.

O’Neill, Part 40 of the U.K. Companies Act 2006: Disqualification Orders go Global, International Company and Commercial Law Review , 2007, p166-Journal Article, 2007.

O’Neill, Corporate Reputation in the House of Lords, Company Layer, 28(3), 2007, p76.

O’Neill, The Constitutional Rights of Companies, Dublin, Thomson Round Hall, 2007.

O’Neill, Unjust Enrichment and Restitution of Tax Paid under a Mistake of Law, Irish Tax Review, 2007, p66.

O’Neill, Relieving Directors: The Irish Approach, Company Lawyer, 2007, p116.

Ailbhe O’Neill, The Right to Silence and the Company, Irish Jurist, 2005, p111.

Ailbhe O’Neill, Corporate Freedom of Expression”, Dublin University Law Journal, 27, 2005, p185.

Ailbhe O’Neill and Eoin Carolan, Media Law in Ireland, 2nd ed., Dublin, Bloomsbury,  2019.

Defamation by Hyperlink and the Publication Rule, Dublin University Law Journal, 35, 2012, p317.

On-line Piracy and the Responsibilities of Internet Service Providers in Ireland, Entertainment Law Review, 2011, p89.

Executive Power after Burke v Minister for Education [2022] IESC, Sutherland School of Law, UCD, Public Law Conference, 14 June 2022.

Decision Making in the Public Sector, Mason Hayes and Curran Webinar, 4 November 2021

Zalewski v Adjudication Officer: Implications for Regulators, UCD Centre for Constitutional Studies, 15 July 2021, Public Law Seminar Series.

Revisiting Cahill v Sutton – locus standi in the modern Supreme Court, UCD Centre for Constitutional Studies, 23 May 2019, Public Law Conference.

Proceedings at Inquiry under Part IIIC of the Central Bank Act, Enforcement Division of the Central Bank of Ireland, 18 September 2018.

Open Justice Revisited, Irish Supreme Court Review Conference, Trinity College Dublin, 2018.



Member of the Housing Commission.


Lecturer – Trinity College in Corporate Governance, Constitutional Law and Media Law.

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